Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Prostitution in historical Dublin and the lovely Molly Malone
One of the few parts of our history that gets glossed over when tour guides wax lyrical about Joyce, Yeats and Co. is the fact that the largest redlight area on the then British Isles second city was based in Dublin. The area known as Monto short for Montgomery street was popular with the British soldiers and college students attending Trinity. At its height it had up to 1600 prostitutes and allegedly among its customers was the future King Edward VII who is supposed to have lost his virginity here. It was finally closed in the 1920's after Catholic Legion of Mary ran a campaign to clean up the area, but more likely because there were not as many lonely British soldiers around. The place is remembered in song and "Monto" is a popular party piece song with many Dubliners.
Molly Malone whom song has made famous lived around this time and though her legend seems to have grown that she was hardworking pretty girl selling her wares on the street during the day, to support the family fishmongers, the truth is at that time these street sellers were part time prostitutes selling themselves on the streets at night. Ironic that her statue was placed so close to Trinity College which would have been a large part of her customer base. Her song hass been famous all over the world thanks to the popularity of calling Irish bars 'Molly Malone' and the amount of teams that use it as their anthem.